Rural apps in the offing:Tips for developing rural apps

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In the last few years, smartphone adoptions has seen an upward surge in rural India, thanks to low cost smartphones launched by Indian companies. In addition to this, major players such as Apple, Samsung and Google have geared up to introduce cheaper smartphones to tap this growing market. It is estimated that in the next 5 to 10 years, this acceleration will increase multifold.

This increased market penetration of smartphones in rural areas opens up opportunities for app developers to target rural India and increase monetization avenues. Currently most apps in market are targeted towards urban youth, often associated with gaming or social networking; leaving the rural market largely untapped. A large population in rural India is engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry, education, and trading, thus it makes more sense to develop apps around the needs of the population. In fact, the Indian government has made information pertaining to these areas public; serving as a starting point for developers as they can leverage this data to develop apps suited to the needs of the rural population.

Also with the provision of broadband wireless access, the rural market is likely to adopt complex mobile apps in the near future. Developers can thus even contemplate developing apps around ecommerce apart from the basic run-of the- mill apps.

However in order to cater this booming market, the app developers will have to adapt a different strategy befitting the local needs of the rural population and take cognizance of the following factors:

  • Limited Power Supply – Rural areas face frequent power cuts and scarcity of electricity. Developers will have to design apps in such a way that they consume less battery life. If the apps consume lot of electricity, it will discourage the rural population from using them extensively.
  • Limited Internet Bandwidth – Though broadband wireless internet has forayed into urban areas, its reach in rural areas is limited. Developers will need to focus on creation of native apps so that they can be accessed without internet connection or with limited internet connectivity. Giants, such as Google are investing in technology to provide bandwidth to rural areas. The consumption of internet bandwidth is slated to increase in coming year and is thus a positive sign for app developers.
  • Cost Sensitive Market – Indians traditionally are sensitive towards pricing. It is the low cost of smartphones that facilitated its deep penetration in rural India and paid apps can be a hindrance to the popularity and adoption of apps. Hence developers will have on similar lines to think of innovative revenue model to churn out revenue from them.
  • Local Support -Vernacular languages are always favored and are used extensively within the rural population. Localized language support and simple navigation with help further application adoption.

Although the market for rural apps is huge, app developers must trend with caution and provide value for money and at the same time address local needs. It’s about time that service providers and app developers start cashing in on this trend and the burgeoning rural market for smartphones.

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